People under stress are more likely to experience tinnitus, and many experts think there is a link between stress and tinnitus, reports the British Tinnitus Association. It is unknown, however, whether stress causes tinnitus, whether it exacerbates tinnitus or whether it simply makes people more likely to notice tinnitus.
Those who experience tinnitus often describe it as a sensation of ringing in the ears. Some people may experience other sounds like buzzing, clicking or hissing, explains Mayo Clinic. Tinnitus has many possible causes, including hearing damage or hearing loss, changes in the ear bones, accumulation of ear wax, or head injury. It also has associations with certain medications, neurological disorders and blood vessel disorders.
Stress may link to tinnitus in several ways. Tinnitus can be the result of high blood pressure, and stress or anger may raise blood pressure, notes Mayo Clinic. In these cases, reducing stress might help to reduce symptoms of tinnitus.
Tinnitus might also contribute to anxiety, according to the British Tinnitus Association. People whose tinnitus is particularly loud or distressing may begin to worry that they will have difficulty sleeping or relaxing, or they may begin to think that their tinnitus symptoms will never go away. These worries can contribute to stress. Poor sleep or insomnia caused by tinnitus might also make stress or anxiety worse.
Some experts think that there is no real physiological connection between stress and tinnitus, reports CalmClinic. Instead, they think that people who experience stress or anxiety are more likely to notice tinnitus, because they are more sensitive to physical sensations and sounds. Even if this is the case, cognitive behavioral therapy or other approaches to managing stress or anxiety may improve symptoms of tinnitus, or may make tinnitus less bothersome.